April 20, 2012 / 8:48 AM / 5 years ago

GE, Microsoft earnings lift stock futures

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures rose on Friday, indicating the S&P 500 may snap a 2-day decline, after better-than expected results from Microsoft and General Electric Co propelled a solid earnings season.

GE rose 1.4 percent to $19.40 in premarket trading after the largest U.S. conglomerate’s first-quarter profit topped estimates, helped by strong sales of jet engines and energy equipment as well as profit growth at its finance arm.

Microsoft Corp gained 3.6 percent to $32.13 premarket as the maker of the Windows operating system posted profit that beat expectations late Thursday as personal computer sales held up better than expected.

“GE was really strong, Microsoft had some good news. Those are probably the two biggest companies that pop out,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

“GE’s number’s especially because it is a bellwether for the industrials and it’s global. They beat on revenues, which they haven’t really been able to do in a long time, and that really bodes well for industrials in particular.”

Kimberly-Clark Corp posted higher quarterly profit as the maker of Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers trimmed costs to deal with some weakness.

Air conditioner maker Ingersoll Rand Plc posted profit topped the Wall Street view early Friday and forecast full-year profit within Wall Street estimates.

Other major companies due to announce results Friday included McDonald’s Corp and Gilead Sciences Inc.

Of the 105 S&P 500 components reporting through Thursday, 81.9 percent beat analysts’ expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data.

S&P 500 futures rose 6 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 49 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 12.25 points.

Oilfield services company Schlumberger NV’s profit rose on improved deepwater activity and global exploration in several regions. Shares climbed 1.5 percent to $70.85 in premarket.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc climbed 1.6 percent to $8.10 premarket as the chipmaker forecast revenue above expectations late Thursday in another sign that PC demand was holding up better than anticipated.

Healthcare group Johnson & Johnson, which secured European Union clearance Thursday to purchase Swiss medical device maker Synthes Inc for about $21 billion, expects to close the deal in the current quarter.

In Europe, a rebound in bank shares offset losses in the technology and energy sectors and kept a key equities index on track for its first weekly gain in nearly a month.

Asian shares fell after disappointing economic data stirred doubts about the strength of the recovery.

Reporting By Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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